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Centaurs are horse-human hybrids. Because they have human elements, we can assume that they have intelligence, culture, and a desire for a comfortable life. A stable that would be good enough for a mere horse just isn't going to cut it. So what would a comfortable residence for a centaur look like?

Some considerations that would seem to apply:

  • Horses (and thus centaurs) don't do well with steps.

  • Centaurs have human torsos and thus arms and hands; they can manipulate things like handles and drawers as well as we can.

  • Spaces are going to need to be big enough for a horse to walk around, and that "bigness" is front to back, not side to side. A galley-style kitchen isn't going to work, and they'll need enough room to turn around wherever they are in the house.

  • Furniture seems challenging, but presumably our centaurs don't want to stand all the time. What do they sit on? Lie on?

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    $\begingroup$ There is a village described in Midnight at the Well of Souls, including dwellings, businesses, and a cargo ship. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Oct 14 '15 at 7:54
  • $\begingroup$ "...that "bigness" is front to back, not side to side." I'm sure centaurs would like to be able to turn around in their hallways. $\endgroup$ – Azuaron Jan 2 '18 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Azuaron good point, thanks. Edited. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Jan 2 '18 at 18:58
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By coincidence, I've been thinking about almost the same issue for a bunch of aliens who aren't a human/horse chimera but share with centaurs the basic plan of quadruped locomotion and an upright "front torso" with two arms for manipulation.

I doubt centaurs would require their own beds or a room chiefly dedicated to housing a bed for a particular individual to sleep all night through. If centaurs sleep in a mode similar to horses they will do most of their sleeping in short naps taken a standing position, locking the "stay apparatus" in the muscles of their legs so that they can relax while still standing. However according to the Wikipedia link above, "Horses must lie down to reach REM sleep. They only have to lie down for an hour or two every few days to meet their minimum REM sleep requirements" - so centaur houses would probably be well supplied with bed/chairs available for any member of the household to use for a couple of hours at a time. I am visualising huge bean bags, but it is possible that they would actually prefer a pile of straw. Perhaps far from feeling that a stable-like environment is beneath their dignity they would consider the human habit of sleeping on artificial pads full of dust mites and shed skin cells to be unhygienic. Far better to have clean, natural straw replaced daily.

The ability to sleep standing up evolved in horses as a means to make a quicker escape from predators. For the same reason horses like to sleep in groups with one member of the group keeping awake and on guard. That's the basic evolutionary benefit of living in a herd. So at first glance it might appear that centaur households would need to be large, making for even bigger houses, and centaur lifestyle always communal. However centaurs are not horses. They can defend themselves extremely well, having both a man's ability to wield weapons and a horse's speed. This being so they could well be comfortable in groups of a wide spectrum of sizes, but probably never living alone. Much would depend on how "melded" the horse and human natures are in your centaurs, and how long they have been evolving for as centaurs. Possibly as mythical creatures they aren't subject to evolution at all, unlike my hexapod aliens.

Another thing that would differ a lot depending on the degree to which your centaurs were magical creatures with separate human and horse parts as opposed to evolved creatures that were more unified, would be kitchen and dining arrangements. For true dual-natured magical centaurs, C.S. Lewis's children's book The Silver Chair (one of the Chronicles of Narnia series) says it all:

“A Centaur has a man-stomach and a horse-stomach. And of course both want breakfast. So first of all he has porridge and pavenders and kidneys and bacon and omelette and cold ham and toast and marmalade and coffee and beer. And after that he tends to the horse part of himself by grazing for an hour or so and finishing up with a hot mash, some oats, and a bag of sugar. That's why it's such a serious thing to ask a Centaur to stay for the weekend. A very serious thing indeed.”

Now that I come to think about it, though, how would a centaur graze? His horse-stomach probably needs the grass, but it would have to pass through his human mouth and stomach first, which are not well adapted to either reaching, chewing or digesting grass. Returning to the subject of the question, any centaur home would require access to grassland, for psychological reasons even if not to provide nutrition. I do not think centaurs would be as willing as humans to spend all day indoors.

Centaur kitchens would be huge and continuously in use, resembling the kitchens of medieval castles.

In fact European castles of the Middle Ages and the sort of highly organised life that castle-dwelling fostered might be the pattern of domestic life closest to what centaurs would prefer. The fortifications would suit their horse-need to feel safe from predators, and given that every centaur is his own cavalry charger it might be needed to protect against enemies just as it was in human feudal societies.

Obviously the towers and upper stories would need wider staircases, especially if spiral, than human castles have - but horses can manage stairs surprisingly well. They don't find it easy to move backwards, so stairs and passageways would either need passing spaces and/or designated directions of travel as roads do.

If your centaurs follow the classical body pattern then to pick something up from ground level would require them to kneel down first. This is possible, but troublesome, so centaur houses would contain little other than floor and walls below waist level for a centaur which is about shoulder level for a human. All tables, handles, and shelves would start at this height. Delete the above if their "human" halves are adapted for grazing. In that case they might be able to manipulate things at ground level with their mouths as well as their hands.

The communal life within the castle, centred on the Great Hall with its huge dining table (no benches needed), would suit both their equine herd instinct and human sociability, with the option to retire to side-chambers on occasion for some privacy. (Note: sexual intercourse would not be included among the activities requiring a private room - it would take place outdoors.) Their human love of luxury and ostentatious display could be met as it was in castles by splendid wall-hangings and tapestries, rather than carpets or fancy, fragile furniture. Hooves are tough on carpets and furniture is going to have to be very strongly made to last long in proximity to horse bodies.

(Later edit: It has just occurred to me that though hooves are tough on carpets as I said above, hard floors would be equally tough on the unshod hoof. So unless your centaurs habitually fit horseshoes to each other, which of course they might well, they would like a softer floor surface than stone. So the top layer of a floor might be made of packed earth or sand by design.)

A description of the domestic sanitary arrangements necessary to dispose of the excreta of two differently functioning stomachs in one body I shall leave as an exercise to the reader.

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    $\begingroup$ "Horses must lie down to reach REM sleep. They only have to lie down for an hour or two every few days to meet their minimum REM sleep requirements." REM requirements for horses are an hour two every few days because they have simpler brains. The more complex brain of a centaur would have REM requirements similar to humans. $\endgroup$ – Azuaron Jan 2 '18 at 18:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Azuaron, that is a very good point.I would still keep the idea that centaurs only have to lie down for REM sleep, so they would lie down less than humans who lie down for any sort of sleep, but assuming centaurs needed a similar amount of REM sleep to humans that would be something like 90 minutes a night. Perhaps they would still be more like horses than humans in that they would take all their REM sleep in one chunk per night rather than three or four short bursts. $\endgroup$ – Lostinfrance Jan 2 '18 at 21:38
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Steps would most likely be replaced by ramps, roughened to allow a safe grip. Since ramps tend not to be so steep as steps then spiral ramps would most likely be used, although they would have quite a wide radius both to allow the centaur to fit around the corner and to allow the slope to rise enough before it meets itself.

Centaurs do not need much more space than humans in a straight line, but when turning they need a lot more. I would expect to see no "dead end" corridors and certainly no sharp turns, instead turnings would be curves or would be small rooms big enough for a centaur to turn around in.

In general their houses would need considerably more space than human ones just because of all that horse body the have to get around in them.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm picturing those grand, sweeping, curved staircases in old mansions, refitted as centaur ramps. Pretty and impressive, but as you say, not for the small back staircase. :-) Curves rather than right angles for passages makes a lot of sense. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Feb 22 '16 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ Yep. I was thinking the same thing on the stairs $\endgroup$ – Tim B Feb 22 '16 at 16:34
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I don't think centaur would stay in one place instead I think they would being more nomadic. I can see them carrying a large tent with them. They would stop for a few days and set the tent. The centaur would eat and rest in the tent while other centaurs would keep watch outside. Furniture would be sparse nomadic peoples usually traveled light. They would probably have carts that they would pull within the carts contain cushions and tables that could be set up within the tent.

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I imagine centaurs as something between wild animals and humans - think Tarzan if he loved to fight. I would imagine they would make practical-sized huts - just big enough to hold a bed of straw and maybe some of the centaur's loot. Not too big though. They might need to house a family of 4 for a bit but still, they mostly live outside. I don't know about materials, but something like branches, logs, and earth sounds like they could work with a bit of rope fashioned from vines and stones for support and reinforcement might do the job.

If a centaur is even more animalistic or nomadic, he/she might not even bother with a house and might just make a small camp in the woods marked or decorated with hides (that may double as clothes later), a canopy in case of rain, and a little place for a fire to roast their prey. A bed might not be necessary as the centaur might sleep on the ground, covering himself with leaves for camoflauge.

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I think centaur would have ability to think like humans and it would make sense for them to wanted to have more comfortable way of life , I would like to contemplate the idea of them building a huge medieval style castle with a fortress wall around , it would have enough space for the whole colony to live in it, but of course that wouldn't take place before they lived as nomadic settlements traveling just with a few things time to time, then learned to innovate to a new style of life.

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